The Flu and Self-Diagnosing

With the flu season ending and allergy season approaching and the fact we are still in a pandemic, it is a good idea to look back onto some common ways to prevent getting and spreading the flu or any other diseases.  Although it may seem like common sense, it is always a good idea to remind ourselves of some of the ways to protect ourselves and others by following these simple steps:

  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • While sick, limit contact with others
  • WASH YOUR HANDS (very important)
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Disinfect surfaces
  • Contact medical professional when necessary
  • Getting the flu vaccination

Source: CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

The CDC goes into ways to treat or reduce the effects of the flu by taking an antiviral drug.  The CDC also identifies who are considered High Risk of getting flu-related complications and should take antiviral drugs within two days of getting sick to avoid complications and reduce the effects of the flu.

Dangers of Self-Diagnosing

As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, many illnesses have similar symptoms. If any symptoms do occur, it is important to remember not to rely on research though web search engines.  Self-diagnosing could be dangerous because, in absents of professional medical tests and diagnosis, it is easy to misinterpret symptoms and by not treating the proper disease could be a fatal mistake.  In an article posted in the Columbus Telegram published in 2011, Dr. Ronald Klutman explains, “I would say in the past three to five years, about 30 percent of my patients have researched the Internet before coming to the office” (Freeman 2011).  More alarming, he also states, “I would say of those who do this self-diagnosis about 20 percent might be correct.  But that means 80 percent come up with a diagnosis that’s just wrong, and that’s why we have the 11 years of extra education and training” (Freeman 2011).  If symptoms do occur, seek medical attention and have studies done that will identify specifically what is the cause of the symptoms.  Otherwise, there is a danger of treating a common cold with antibiotics or a bacterial infection with an antiviral medication.  When people take something to treat a symptom, they would wait or postpone seeking a medical professional waiting a day or two to see if the so-called treatment(s) is/are working.  Meanwhile, if the treatment(s) are inappropriate, the patient would have wasted precious time and the virus or bacteria may have intensified during that wasted period resulting in complications that could be fatal.

Conclusion

Practice prevention and prevent self-diagnosis.  The best way to prevent getting the flu is to remember the simple methods of prevention, especially proper hand washing and sanitizing.  At all costs, avoid self-diagnosing.  The so called Superbug, or bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, is thought to have been created by the misuse of antibiotics.  Antibiotics have no effect on a virus and antiviral medications have no effect on bacteria.  Only use when recommended or prescribed by a medical professional as you will not only save your life from infections, but save other lives by preventing the spread to others.

Source:

Influenza, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

Freeman, Eric. (2011, August 15). Doctors say Internet can help or hinder. Columbus Telegram (NE).

Author: Edmund J. Martinez, MBA, MPH, PMP